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First look at the new CycleOps Joule and Joule GPS, PowerTap hubs, PowerCal, and VR software

Yesterday was a busy day for CycleOps…and me, as I spent the day in and around lovely Golden, Colorado with the team getting some hands on time with quite a bit of their new and unannounced product line.  There’s so much to share, that I’m going to simply go chunk by chunk…so hold onto your seats!

New Joule and Joule GPS ANT+ Head Units

CycleOps is introducing two new bike computers to replace the existing Joule 2.0 and Joule 3.0 units.  These new units will simply be dubbed ‘Joule’ and ‘Joule GPS’.  First up is the Joule without GPS, which kicks the blocky design of Joule 2.0 to the curb and goes with a sleek industrial design instead.

(Left: Joule GPS, Right: Joule)

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The Joule unit (non-GPS) runs on a coin cell battery, that lasts about 300-400 hours and is akin to the existing Joule 2.0 units from a functionality standpoint.

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The unit mounts using a quick release system rather similar to the Garmin quarter-turn quick release mount kits – though not quite the same, so the two are not interoperable.

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(Joule above, Joule GPS below)

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They’ll be releasing a few different mount styles, including your standard handlebar mount as well as a stem mount:

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In addition to the Joule, they’ll be adding GPS with the Joule GPS unit (below).  This unit is slightly larger than the standard Joule. The unit contains all of the functionality of the base Joule unit, but adds GPS support.  The primary driver here was to allow folks to see tracks of their rides afterwards.  As a user you can select to use either GPS or other ANT+ sensors to determine speed/distance (for example, an external ANT+ speed sensor, or simply letting the speed data come from the PowerTap hub).

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(Unfortunately, the unit available to us to see was non-powered)

Size wise you’ll find the Joule is nearly identical to the Garmin Edge 500 – while the Joule GPS is just a hair bit bigger:

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From a mapping standpoint they’ve partnered with MapMyRide to offer mapping services on the CycleOps Training Camp site.  The desktop application (PowerAgent) will not be updated to provide mapping functionality.  Additionally, users will be able to display breadcrumb style routes on the device itself while riding, which can be uploaded/downloaded to/from the unit.

The unit runs on a rechargeable battery that plugs in via standard micro-USB cable (they went micro-USB in an effort to align with industry standards on mobile devices).

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You’ll note that both the Joule and Joule GPS did away with the joystick of the Joule 2.0 units.  Instead, it’s all using buttons instead.  They found that from a support, development, and customer satisfaction perspective – the joystick wasn’t quite working out as well as they wanted.

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(Left: Joule, Right: Joule GPS)

While I did get some hands on time with the units on Tuesday, they didn’t have enough to go around for the ride – so actual hands on time while cycling will be forthcoming in the near future when they send out everything in this post for me to test out.  In the meantime, here’s two quick shots taken during the ride that The Girl got with the new Joule mounted on CycleOps product manager Jesse’s bike:

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The Joule standard will retail for $169, while the Joule GPS will retail for $269.  For those that are familiar with the existing Joule prices, this is a drop of over $200 from the previous Joule 2.0.  It’s also in line with the Garmin Edge 500 pricing (which is not a coincidence).

The Joule GPS does best align functionality wise with that of the Garmin Edge 500.  Like the previous Joule 2.0, the Joule and Joule GPS are fully ANT+ compatible, which means you don’t need to have a PowerTap to use it, and any ANT+ cycling device (be it speed/HR/cadence/power, etc…) is compatible.  At this point it’s too soon to say how exactly the Joule GPS stacks up spec-for-spec against the Edge 500 since I just haven’t had any appreciable hands on time with it from a feature standpoint – but you can bet that as soon as I get some ride time with it, I’ll be letting you know.

The Joule and Joule GPS units are scheduled to be available in November 2011.

New and Updated PowerTap Hubs & Wheelsets

A new PowerTap hub has been introduced – the PowerTap G3, which they’re claiming is the worlds  lightest power meter at 325g.  The new unit is primarily targeted at the weight conscious cyclist.

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One of the cool features of the G3 is the overhaul of the electronics pod to be customer serviceable.  Previously, many of the tasks associated with repair of the antenna and/or battery required sending the hub/wheel back to CylceOps.  Now, this has been separated out into a small pod that can be easily swapped out.  Here’s the separated pod below.  You can see the battery on the right side, as well as the USB port on the bottom.

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And just to give a bit of perspective, you can see where it comes from in the hub in the below shot:

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In addition to the titanium bearing based G3, they’re also introducing the G3C, which is identical except it uses ceramic bearings.  The G3 will run $1,299, while the G3C will run $1,799.

The existing wired PowerTap SL+ will go away, but the wireless PowerTap Pro model will be updated with a 20g drop in weight, some fancy new graphics…and a new $799 price tag – or roughly $500 lower than current price. 

Make no mistake here, I believe this is a preemptive move at pricing aggressively to counter whatever Garmin ends up charging for their Vector power meter this fall – especially given Garmin’s previous comments around trying to dramatically increase power meter market adoption (and the only way to do that is to make them more affordable).

Complimenting the new hubs, are three new wheelset options with PowerTap’s built in.  The wheels are divided into the following:

PowerTap G3 Carbon Wheelset – $2,999
PowerTap G3 Training Wheelset -$1,499
PowerTap Pro Training Wheelset – $999

They’ll be offering both a 65mm and 45mm wheelsets made by ENVE for the G3 carbon packages (in both clincher and tubular).  And then an alloy training wheel for the Pro and G3 training packages.  The carbon wheel spokes are bladed DT Aerolights.  ENVE was selected as the OEM partner of choice primarily because of the weight targets that CycleOps was trying to hit.  CycleOps thought it was somewhat of a waste to make such savings in the hub only to lose it on a heavier wheel, thus the selection they made.

Here’s a quick picture of me on the new ENVE Carbon wheels with the PowerTap G3 built in:

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The PowerTap G3 and Pro hubs, along with the new wheelsets will be available in August 2011.  They’ll be fulfilling the wheelset orders first, and then the individual PowerTap hubs.

PowerCal – Heart Rate based power meter estimation

CycleOps is introducing a ton of products aimed at the fairly serious cyclist.  But one gap they see is a power meter option aimed at the more casual cyclist – or simply perhaps someone unwilling to depart with $800+.

After years of research (actually, we got a rather fascinating look at much of the research they’ve been doing on many different technological fronts) they’ll be introducing an ANT+ heart rate strap that will estimate your power output and then re-transmit the estimated power to any ANT+ head unit. 

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In order for the strap to work however, you must first complete a power test.  While the final testing methodology is yet to be released, it’s likely going to be either trainer based or power file based – probably very similar to an FTP test.  Their goal at this time is to get within 5% accuracy on power.  They showed a few slides which allowed us to see the differences between the estimated power and the actual power profile.

In those slides you could see that while the estimated power profile lacked any of the big spikes/drops (such as a surge), it tracked almost spot on through the middle.  In other words, it looks more like a 30-second or 60-second average than a 1-second sample rate.  In the slides shown to us, the end results (ride average) were within 1 watt (examples in the mid-180w).  Though, they said that 5% differential is more realistic.

Currently they’re having the University of Colorado at Boulder doing validation of the methods to ensure accuracy.  I’m definitely looking forward to tossing the PowerCal strap on and seeing how it performs.  The really cool thing about it simply pretending to be an ANT+ power meter is that it’s super easily to pair it to any ANT+ head unit and then compare those results to a direct force power meter – thus, there’s no mystery from a testing standpoint.  Either it works…or it doesn’t.

There will undoubtedly be many in the power community who question the methodology of using heart rate to determine power – and CycleOps doesn’t discount that.  They were pretty clear that if you want accuracy at the 1.5% level, than a direct force power meter is the way to go.  But, if you’re looking to see power at a more macro level, than this may be an valid option.

On the spec side, the strap is fully waterproofed to IPX7 standards, and will of course also transmit ANT+ heart rate as well.

VR Software Suite for Powerbeam and 400 Pro trainers

In addition to all of the new hardware, they’ll also be putting together a new software suite that allows you to ride any course you have a GPX file for, as well as add your own video to the ride.  In other words, you can now take your GoProHD video from your handlebar mount and then match it up with the GPX file – and re-ride it all winter long.  The PowerBeam and 400 Pro trainers will automatically change the wattage in accordance with the terrain.

They showed some screenshots of the software, which I hope to have here shortly for you (will update this section) – just trying to grab the high res versions.

They’ll be allowing you to upload your own videos/creations to a central repository that others can download.  This means that when I go crazy places like cycling in the deserts of Jordan – you can someday re-enact the ride – complete with eggplant trucks and overexcited guard dogs.

The software package will be free for new buyers for those trainers, but will otherwise run $200 for existing folks.  This is inline price-wise with the to-be-released CompuTrainer RacerMate One Suite – which will offer some overlapping areas of functionality (though no ability to create your own courses with video).

Summary:

I hear ya…it’s a lot of information I just threw at you.  Here’s the quick and dirty condensed version:

1) New Joule bike computer, far more compact, ANT+ compatible, at $169 – November 2011
2) New Joule GPS bike computer, adds GPS, still compact, ANT+, and at $269 – November 2011
3) Two new PowerTap hubs (G3 and G3C), at 325g each, for $1299 and $1,799 – August 2011.
4) Updated PowerTap Pro Hub (that’s the wireless one), dropping 20g, and down to $799 – August 2011
5) New race and training wheelsets, lowest package including a PowerTap hub starts at $999 – August 2011
6) New PowerCal HR & Power strap, aimed to estimate power with 5% using HR after power test – $199 – October 2011
7) New VR software suite (like CompuTrainer RealCourse) for PowerBeam and 400 Pro trainers – $199 for existing customers, free for new units – October 2011
8) New CycleOps iPhone app using Wahoo Fitness dongle, created by MapMyRide but integrated with CycleOps Training Camp.  Will record power, HR, speed, distance, routes, etc.. – July 2011 (I don’t have much more info beyond that on this one).

Got it all?  Good.

Tomorrow I’ll tell you about the rest of my day…you know…the part where I spent over four hours wandering around in the mountains at 9,000 feet in Colorado with a bunch of ex-pro cyclists and industry who’s who.  There was a lot of pain involved.  A lot.

As always, if you have any questions – feel free to drop them in the comments below.  Additionally, except that over the course of the summer/fall you’ll see the typical In Depth Reviews of all of these products – as they get into my hands in Washington DC.  Right now on my flight back to DC – the only thing I’ve got in my hands is a CycleOps branded sunscreen bottle that I most definitely should have put on for yesterday’s ride…

65 Comments

  1. Good stuff right there. Can't wait to read more of your tests.

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  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  3. Wow, great stuff. Figures, all this new product after I finally bit the bullet and bought a PT!

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  4. Is it just me or it looks like the new Joule units don't look as good as the current Joule units?
    I really like the Joule 2.0 and 3.0 with TSS and IF information as well as a sleek color screen.
    The new ones seems a step back in terms of quality... What do you think?

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  5. Good information!

    I am a big fan of CycleOps (have 2 powertaps), but I have to say that estimating power by HR is ludicrous in my opinion. I see huge changes in HR for a certain power output from day to day, depending on fatigue and other factors (temperature, etc).

    Might as well train/race based on HR & RPE alone if a powermeter is out of reach, in my opinion.

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  6. I think the answer to the size reduction is when people are spending more than $10 per gram saved on their bike frames it hardly makes sense to squander that on a heavy, complex head unit when you're just going to analyze data on a laptop anyway. Garmin scored huge with the 500 by keeping it simple and focusing on what many users want most - data recording. Word is it was hardly unanimous within Garmin there was a demand for this at the time...

    Actually the next thing on head units will likely be connectivity. Strava is breaking ground here with their phone apps which can on the fly update online databases with ride data. Phones suck power because they're designed for other purposes so a specifically designed head unit should be able to be smarter with its energy. If I want to access those data on the ride I can bring a phone, otherwise it at least saves me the hassle of manual uploads, and others can know immediately where I am or if I broke a record on a marked climb.

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  7. I like the new G3 hubs (but not the new joule units).. especially the price drop... Although I think there will be additional price drops as the power meter technology becomes more common-place (hooray).
    I love my two powertap hubs and unless I'm out for a fun ride, I always use one.

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  8. Awesome post Ray!

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  9. I'll be interested in the PowerCal strap. There's some TRIMPS vs TSS stuff at link to cyclingforums.com worth looking at. When I track values, I find TRIMPS overestimates TSS at low effort (REC & Low END) and underestimates in at high effort (VO2 and up). So for a lot of riding, it will be close. I would use it when on a spin cycle - but that's about it. With a Garmin 310XT I can track OWSwim power and run power (RaceDay2 SwimScore & RunScore) or a SwimSense for indoor SwimScore power calculation. I can't quite squeeze my bike into carry-on for trips though...

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  10. This definitely makes things interesting on the intro-power meter market. Sounds like we'll get a chance to see what Garmin can do before pulling a trigger on this....exciting times!

    Thanks for the inside look Ray. Feel free to send "spare" review units to:
    Tyler Ross...:D

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  11. I saw an article in Velonews about the same subject matter as this post. I like your writing style better, you are more informative, and your pictures are of better quality.

    Thanks for your effort!

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  12. It would appear from the photograph of the electronics pod that it has a USB port. I’m guessing that Saris is going to add the ability for the hub firmware to be update in the field by connecting the pod to your PC?

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  13. Anonymous

    For the power estimation by heart rate it said you have to do a test. Would a direct force powermeter be needed for that? That would kinda defeat the purpose haha

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  14. Yes, either a direct for PM or a trainer that could measure power (i.e. one of thiers or a CompuTrainer, Wattbike, etc...). But those are readily available at many bike shops, testing facilities, etc... sorta like getting your VO2Max test.

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  15. Any idea what format the GPS data will be stored in on the head unit?
    Will the only way to access it be to upload it to Training Camp?

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  16. Eli

    If the current hubs have no ability to be updated or have had any need to update the firmware outside the update to enable ANT+ why have a usb port on the hub? I don't see the need.

    If the Pro hub drops that much then it will become cheaper then the Elite hub (currently the cheapest ANT+ hub) so will that hub go away or do the Elite and Comp both drop in price?

    On a ride last week I saw someone on a wired PT hub (Had the sharkfin frame mounted receiver going into the "old" two button yellow computer) And while the hub looked similar to the normal PT hub with the hard plastic bulge on the non drive side it seemed kind weird as the center of the hub was much thinner. Seemed like a Comp replacement but I haven't seen any pics online of this hub. Have you heard anything?

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  17. A USB port allows corrections or additions to be. It is software after all, so refinements or corrections can always be made.

    There are bugs in the current ANT+ implementation that means some of the messages do not conform to the specification and pass information of little value. If they had a good way of updating the software they may well have fixed them.

    It would also allow them to add additional functionality at some future point in the life of the product. Either as the ANT+ spec evolves or outside of the ANT+ spec as a value add to their own head units.

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  18. Anonymous

    If you don`t mind taking the time to post a response, can you confirm whether the removeable electronics pod is for just the G3 or does the new Pro have this feature as well? From the pics, it looks like it doesn`t but can`t find any articles that clearly state one way or the other - will help me decide whether to wait for this or pick up an old model. PS: Can you pester Garmin to release launch info on the Vector pedals as these would be my first choice, but in the absence of any concrete into, will go with what is, rather than what might be. Thanks.

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  19. Only the new G3's will have the new pods.

    As for Vector, last I heard a few weeks ago things continues to point to H2 this calendar year. However, with it not being used at the TdF, I have a feeling that availability will be later than earlier in H2.

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  20. Anonymous

    Thanks for your prompt response. Yes, the absence of Vector at the Tour is concerning. If only the G3 have the new pods, then think I will go for a clearance option on one of the old PowerTaps then as they make way for the new models. Thanks, Simon

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  21. Anonymous

    Hi! Thanks for this article. Very helpful.

    Thanks to the confirmation that the New Pro will not include the new removable pod.

    However, it looks like they move the electronics to the outside allowing them reduce the hub size in the New Pro? Was there any technical reason (meaning adding cost) that prevented them from making the pod in the New Pro non-removable? Or just product segmentations?

    One final one if you don't mind. There are some good discounts on the current Pro+. Do you see any compelling reason to forgo the discount and wait for the New Pro?

    Thanks in advance. Much appreciated.

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  22. Anonymous

    Ooops, I may have read the image wrong.

    In your side by side image of the Pro+ and G3. Is that Pro+, the NEW version?

    If so, then it seems the did NOT move the electronics outside and kept the same bigger hub size?

    Sorry for all the questions!

    Thanks for your help!

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  23. Anonymous

    Other than look/ergonomics (& price of course!) what is the difference in function of the new Joule vs Joule 2.0? Same features? Looks like it might be harder to read. I hope you can de-select the clock now. Thanks.

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  24. Joe

    Btw was there any mention if Cycleops updating their Indoor Cycles?

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  25. Hi Joe-

    Beyond software updates, nothing.

    Thanks!

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  26. ckt

    Im also interested in the difference between the joule 2.0 and the joule gps. activity mode available on joule gps as well?

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  27. Anonymous

    It's now November and I can't seem to find anything "new" about the Powerbeam with the updated/upgraded software (like CT)--just wondering if there's any word out there??

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  28. Talked with them today. They're working to get me some test stuff soon. Still in beta at this point, but close enough they're willing to let it get out of the house a bit.

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  29. CycleOps PowerCal: I think a useful comparison, other than the obvious PowerTap vs PowerCal comparison, would be to compare the PowerCal calculated total/average power output to that predicted by the standard TRIMPS HR-based calculation. As I plan to use the PowerCal for indoor SPIN classes, there had better be an improvement over standard TRIMPS calculations, or it's going back...

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  30. Looking forward to more impressions of the Powercal!

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  31. John C.

    Any updates on the new Joule release date? 11/11 has come and gone...

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  32. Anonymous

    No kidding. I've been holding off waiting to get this and there's no indication from Cycleops when it is forthcoming.

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  33. Jay Themes

    I talked to CS about the new Joule in December and they "hoped" for late 2011/early 2012 release. Sounds to me like they are stalling...(maybe fixing bugs?). DC - do you have any insight?

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  34. Hey Guys-

    Since you asked I shot over an e-mail a couple days ago, just forgot to update the status here in the blur of CES. They said they are wrapping up some external testing and plan to have it available in Q1 2012 (i.e Jan-March).

    I'll check back the first week of February on that one.

    As for the VR software, the current target is now Interbike 2012. I've got a beta copy of it and will be talking about it a bit more in the coming weeks.

    Thanks for reading!

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  35. Hello Rainmaker. I've got a question. Is still barometic altimeter in joule GPS or maybe GPS altimeter like in Garmin 500 advice?

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  36. PowerCal now delayed until late May/June, according to a vendors who was contacted by CycleOps.

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  37. Anonymous

    AndyP

    Thanks for the updates and the great review. Any more info on the release for Joule 2? Also I am assuming it will work with the Vector system since both are Ant+ but will it be able to read right/left power?

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  38. Ray,

    Any news on when the new Joule GPS unit will be available? Thanks again for all your excellent reviews.

    - paul r

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  39. For those interested, I received word yesterday from CS at Saris that they are now looking at spring/early summer for the new Joule & Joule GPS release.

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  40. Anonymous

    Thanks Mike on the updated new release date. Any idea if it will be able to show L/R power?

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  41. I just shot over an e-mail asking for another updated release date, as well as info on left/right power.

    Thanks!

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  42. Anonymous

    I think Toyota can design and sell a car (start from paper scratch to full scale production)faster than Saris with their joule 1.0

    Come on ! It is just a cycling computer. It's not like they are new in the business. That's what they been doing for long time now.

    Why is it taking so long ?
    Testing my a....

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  43. Anonymous

    I think Toyota can design and sell a car (start from paper scratch to full scale production)faster than Saris with their joule 1.0

    Come on ! It is just a cycling computer. It's not like they are new in the business. That's what they been doing for long time now.

    Why is it taking so long ?
    Testing my a....

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  44. They're saying May now....

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  45. SSBonty

    Any updates - we're in June now :-)

    Wonder if it's the GPS aspect they're having problems with, as everything else they've done before, whereas Garmin obviously had the GPS sorted before moving into the cycling/power side of things...

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  46. In talks with them on Friday, they're saying late June before I see a unit (though, the G3 wheelset arrived Saturday here - but that's been out a while...).

    I'd honestly expect it to pop in late July, ahead of Eurobike in August, Interbike in September.

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  47. SSBonty

    Thanks for the info!

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  48. Rainmaker,

    Attended PressCamp and returned with the Joule GPS + PowerCal. As I said in my initial review, believe in faith-based power, and the science of Lim, you'll trust the output shown on the screen. Their software hasn't been updates to download the files, so I can't look at the numbers or trips further.

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  49. Anonymous

    Joule is already shipped for a couple of days.

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  50. Anonymous

    Sorry, I meant that the new Joule 1.0 is on the market, Cycleops has started to ship it a couple of days ago.
    Joule 2.0 GPS is still cooking.

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  51. Good news! One was shipped out and arrives Monday morning for me to check out. Woot!

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  52. Tim

    I think the powercal unit would work well as a partner to a PT hub - powercal for IM races where goal is constant power and then no need to buy or rent another hub for my race wheels. But use my PT hub on my training wheels to accurately measure my training response

    What do you think?
    Tim

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  53. Hungary

    If you have so good relationship with Saris/Cycleops people, could not you please push them to come out with an improved firmware for 2.0.

    I reported them a substantial number of bugs and some pecularities, too, but there is nothing since last October 14.072

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  54. On the PowerCal, that's a tough case. Honestly, unless you already have a wheelset - I'd just rent a wheelset from Raceday Wheels (or similiar) with a PT built in. In my mind, an IM event is probably THE perfect example of where you want your power pacing to be spot on. In my casual testing, I've found things to be consistant, but not nessessarily accurate - especially spikes. It's these spikes that kill ya in an IM bike leg.

    Just my two cents.

    As an aside, the Joule and Joule GPS came today in the mail. I'll be back in Paris Wednesday and should get a chance to start playing with them.

    As for asking CycleOps for features - it's tough, they are well known to march to their own beat on the firmware front. Wish I had better news there!

    Thanks all!

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  55. Ray,

    I've received my PowerCal and already did several tests.
    See
    link to teamrodrigo.com
    and
    link to teamrodrigo.com

    So far, I'm very positively impressed with this device, especially since they cut the price down to $99.

    I still think PowerTap (or any other direct measurement power meter) is more accurate and should be used, especially in TT/triathlons, but this new little device at $99 is really an amazing alternative when a real power meter is not available, like when travelling, spin classes, etc...

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  56. Anonymous

    I guess Ray you had enough time to play with Joule GPS. My query would be that apart from GPS logging whether there is any difference between Joule 2.0 and Joule GPS in terms of functionality. I mean can one find exactly the same metrics on both gadgets with the same grouping of 3?

    Thanks for caring

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  57. Anonymous

    Yep, I'd be interested, as well.

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  58. Hi - great stuff- does this new Joule GPS work with any Ant+ heart rate monitor strap?

    In particular, would this work with the heart rate monitor strap from the Garmin 310XT ?

    thanks

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  59. Hi - does this new Joule GPS work with the Garmin 310XT heart rate strap?

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  60. Yup, totally compatible.

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  61. Anonymous

    Joule GPS vs Garmin 500 with Powertap...Thoughts?

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  62. Thanks for the post Ray, I am also REALLY interested about a comparison between Edge500 vs Joule GPS, when are you planing to write something for those ?? or have you already ?? (maybe I missed it...)

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  63. Rodrigo Dantas

    All ciclocomputadores (old Joule and Garmin) have the option to include zero in power, in cadence, etc.. The Joule GPS does not have this option.

    Another thing the previous model (Joule) I can choose, for example, to see the average power, with the distance and length of workout.
    The Joule GPS does not have this option.
    Bad...very bad!!!!!

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  64. Andrew

    Did you experience any side to side play in the hub? I have the G3 hub and there is a small bu noticeable play, probably about 2mm per side.

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    • Andrew replied

      Quick update. I spoke with Saris this morning and there were some manufacturing inconsistencies with the end cap which is causing side to side play. They are sending me the new endcaps no questions asked. Great customer service!!

      Reply

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